Acclimating, by KJ Hannah Greenberg

Dear Sister:

Can you believe that we are six months into our aliyah? We’re grateful to be here and grateful for all of the opportunities, for personal growth, that being here brings.

Life here, in many ways, is both simpler and more challenging than life there. The crazy middle-easterners we call “friends” and “neighbors” are fab and are vehicles for much of our cultural enlightenment. Sure there are creeps among the saints, but most of the folk in our circles are ordinary, wonderful, hard-working people. Among them, there is less of a feeling of entitlement and more of a feeling of “can do.” After all, here, prices are higher (by about twice the amount) and salaries are lower (by about half) than there. Locals make things last, fix things, use something else, or do without.

Even if we wanted and could afford particular goods, getting them here is not so simple. The last time that Mom shipped us some health and beauty aids worth tens of shekels and some electronic goods worth more, we spent hundreds of shekels on taxes to redeem those boxes from the post office. It’s literally not worth using familiar brands when the tax to redeem them is so high.

Accordingly, thanks for your warm wishes and for your willingness to bring us paper and foil when you visit. You are so generous and loving! Meir bought foil in the States during his last business trip and then I found some in the stores here. Please do not bother filling up you suitcase with paper, either; it takes sooo much room.

I had a list for Meir (his January trip to the States has been postponed until after Big Guy’s Bar Mitzvah), but I looked at that list and saw that the items on it are not so important after all, so I’m not replicating the list. If you have an extra suitcase, maybe bring clothes or something for the poor; there is so much poverty here.

I’ll ask the kids and Meir if there are any goodies they want. They will want English language books; we’re slowly learning to read the Hebrew ones. In a year or so, I’ll want new shoes (tough to get wide widths here) and maybe a cardigan.

Even the things money can buy, like tutors, (and we qualify for some funds via a government program) necessitate making time for finding and then for babysitting them. I’m not rushing into my consumer role in this regard, either.

You asked what we miss. We miss State-side friends and family. Per what we’d like, I can give you my list:

  • I would like Mom to have better health.
  • I would like Little Guy’s eyes (finally found a specialist) and hips to heal.
  • I would like to have better health.
  • I would like the kids to be happy in school. Their progress (both cultural and academic) is fast sometimes and slow other times. The third week we were here, for instance, both boys got beaten up on the same day. At this point in the term, Missy Oldest has dropped out of honors math.
  • Per the above, I’d also like people to stop undermining our kids’ absorption vis-à-vis comments about how their kids made the adjustment. Such talk chafes me and makes me want to isolate our kids.
  • I would like to find part-time work teaching (a course I thought I was going to teach was cancelled due to lack of enrollment; the dean suggested that I offer workshops to entice the students to explore the topic and then offer the course in the fall). If I had infinite time and money, I might consider that option. Sigh.
  • I would like my reviews to be published in a certain academic journal (there was a confusion on names that delayed this process).
  • I would like to publish more creative writing, but I need a private space in order to get any writing done. Currently, my desk is in the livingroom and I only get enough quiet moments to complete emails. All in good time, I suppose.
  • I would like to have an easier time learning Hebrew!
  • I would also like to purchase and to reconfigure this cottage, i.e. townhouse, so that I have a room in which to write. I would like to plant more flowers on our porch.
  • I would like the government to stop giving away our land.
  • I would also like the terrorists to go away.
  • I would like to host more people more often for Shabbot.
  • I would like more of our American friends to move here (some might this summer).
  • I would like to engage in more self development, too, but that a life-long project.

There’s probably more to list, but Meir and I have our official driving lessons early, 7:30 a.m., tomorrow morning. Please G-d, this time, tomorrow, we’ll possess Israeli driving permits.

Thinking about material things reminds me that it’s really, mostly, the other things we need. Perspective is a wonderful item. Thanks for the chance to grab hold of it!

Love Ya!
Your One and Only Sis


Pushcart Prize nominee, KJ Hannah Greenberg’s lightly pert and somewhat exuberant, layered writing has found homes in North American, in European, in Oceanic, in Middle Eastern, and in Far Eastern venues, as well as under select budgies. Those creative efforts are devoted to lovers of slipstream fiction, to second chair oboe players and to mothers who despair of finding the bottom of Mt. Laundry. Hannah’s newest book, Oblivious to the Obvious: Wishfully Mindful Parenting, is available at French Creek Press.

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